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Germany Declares Berlin Christmas Market Truck Crash a Terrorist Attack

Authorities have arrested a 23-year-old Pakistani, but say suspect could still be at large

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has declared Monday’s Berlin Christmas market truck crash a target of a terrorist attack.

According to the New York Times, German interior minister Thomas de Maiziere said that a 23-year-old Pakistani man who had applied for asylum was arrested on suspicion of being involved in the crash.

“We must assume at the current time that it was a terrorist attack,” Merkel said on Tuesday. “I know that it would be particularly difficult for all of us to bear if it is confirmed that this deed was carried out by a person who sought protection and asylum in Germany.”

Maiziere added that “we no longer have any doubt that this terrible event yesterday evening was an attack.”

According to local reports, authorities are not sure they have the right man. Germany’s chief prosecutor Peter Frank told reporters, “We must get used to the idea that he was possibly not the perpetrator or that he didn’t belong to the group of perpetrators.” Police chief Klaus Kandt added that the description of the suspect is not precise enough yet, and therefore, the subject may still be at large.

Moreover, the arrested suspect is denying his involvement in the attack.

The 23-year-old was arrested 1.5 miles away from the Berlin Christmas market, where a truck plowed through a sidewalk and killed 12 and injured 48.

A police officer told Berliner Morgenpost that at least two people were in the truck when it hit the market. After the truck came to a stop, both allegedly jumped out and fled. However, the Berlin Police tweeted that one suspect was found dead in the truck.

On Monday, a spokesman for the police department told Berliner Zeitung that they arrested a suspect believed to have driven the truck at the Victory Column in the Tiergarten district. They had no update on motive or background of the suspect. The department tweeted that it was not yet clear whether the suspect was connected to the attack.